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My favorite Metmorabilia

Over the past couple weeks, I added a few things to my Mets memorabilia collection.

I finally broke down and purchased a signed photo, nicely framed, of the last moment of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, signed by Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner. I had held off on doing so for a long time because I considered it a little tacky. But then I heard Bill Buckner say that he put his kids through college with the money he's made from memorabilia signings, and I wanted to encourage them to continue their education.

I bought my 3rd and 4th McFarlane figurines, adding Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado to the set that previously included David Wright and Tom Seaver.

I got sucked in by a website banner ad and paid for the New York Times commemorative baseball magazine, titled Amazin', an 80-page special edition featuring replicas of old newspaper pages related to Mets history.

Lastly, a colleague was kind enough to provide me with something unique- a card on which he took notes about the Mets while previously competing against them. Without getting into a full description (I don't want to give away the name of the person who gifted), I will say that it provided a rather thorough analysis on a particular Mets team.

I do collect Mets paraphenalia...not quite to the extent that someone like this does

but I like my collection, and I'll share a few of the highlights, if you'll indulge.

* There was a time when my father and I were very thorough in assessing team-signed baseballs. I remember proving that one potential purchase was not signed by the 1973 squad because it included Met-for-a-moment Rich Folkers. I also recall how we established that one baseball we owned briefly was signed by the 1962 Mets during spring training, as it contained the autographs of players who never even made the team. My dad sold that ball and got another 1962 ball in return (you'd have sold it too if you knew how much he got) and he's the keeper of a good number of team-signed balls.

Not long ago my dad gave me a baseball with 20-odd inscriptions on it. Those included Curtis Fisher, Dave Von Ohlen, Cliff Speck, Gene Bardot and Rusty Clark (or Stark...hard to tell which). The most notable name on the baseball is Jeff Reardon. Most importantly, in between Fisher and what appears to be Randy Brown is the signature of the man who would go on to become my favorite Met- Neil Allen. The ball, signed by the 1977 Lynchburg Mets, sits on a shelf right next to my foul ball (Mike Piazza vs Eric Gagne, off-the-railing catch, August 18, 2002) and a ball pilfered from batting practice (August 3, 1994) from my days as a Shea Stadium tour guide.

* I had the good fortune to work at Shea as a tour guide with a fellow named Lane Luckert, who I'm hopeful has read this blog at some point as his knowledge of Mets history is remarkably sharp. Lane once decided he wanted a picture of himself reenacting Tommie Agee's snow-cone catch in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series, and we spent a good 15 minutes on the warning track assessing the best manner in which to do this. I remember being very frustrated by this, but any angry feelings were eased by his gift to me- a videotape that includes camcorder footage from the stands of both the 1986 NL East division clincher against the Cubs and Len Dykstra's walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS. It rests on a shelf with other highlight videos, spanning all eras of Mets history.

Lane also is a good artist. I once received an invite to his annual Fireworks Night get together at Shea in an envelope, with my name written in blue and orange script, similar to how one would write out "Mets." That's hanging on my door, just above a caricature that must have been done 20-or-so years ago of me swinging a bat, wearing Mets jersey No. 7. The best piece of artwork I own...that's a tough call. There are two I really like and one (a Bill Goff lithograph of Tom Seaver's near-perfect game against the Cubs in 1969) is hanging above the other (a watercolor of Dwight Gooden pitching, done by an artist named John Kiely) in my bedroom.

* I do admit to being crazy enough to have blades of Shea Stadium grass. I plucked a few during the end of my tour guide days and tucked them away in a napkin, along with a piece of dry paint that came off the right field fence. I put them both in a plastic sheet and am quite happy that they are still preserved , though I imagine you'll think that is rather weird. Also from my last days, I have pictures of me on the pitchers mound, leaping at the left field fence, and crossing home plate. Hopefully I didn't do anything to disturb the fine groundswork of Pete Flynn and his crew.

* On my desk at work, in addition to the McFarlane figurines, I have two bobblehead dolls. One is of baseball historian Bill James (it came with a review copy of his biography) and that seems appropriate given the kind of work I'm prone to do. The other is of my second-favorite Met, Edgardo Alfonzo, which was given to me as a gift by my sister last year.

Most people, when they see the Alfonzo, presume that he is my favorite Met, though if they voice that aloud, I do let them know that Neil Allen properly ranks first on the list. The cards of Allen and Alfonzo highlight a rather light baseball-card collection. The cards sit in a binder along with some other neat trinkets like ticket stubs (my dad tells me not to forget his binder, which includes full tickets of both 1986 Game 6s) and the wire-service photo of Bob Ojeda celebrating his victory in Game 2 of the NLCS (which may have been purchased on October 25, 1986). My binder, while impressive, is not quite up to the standards of another I know.

* In my old bedroom at my parents home, we have a wall of pins and I pilfered a bunch a year or two ago, then gave them back because my dad said he liked having them. They include photo-buttons and stadium giveaway pins related to various players and games. I don't particularly like wearing pins or buttons, so I don't, but I admit that we have a rather neat compilation. I think one of the rarest is a giveaway on which it states "I (Heart) New York Mets" similar to the I Love New York buttons that you might see. I've never seen anyone wearing that. Tops on my wantlist pin-wise would be one that I saw at the 1999 playoffs and haven't seen since. Someone had a pin containing the Jesse Orosco celebration photo from the back page of the New York Daily News on October 28, 1986 (the day after winning the World Series) and I must admit to being rather envious of them.

* I take pride in having a very solid collection of Mets books, including a near-complete set of Mets media guides, though regular readers from my early days know that my favorite is a dog-eared signed copy of This Date in Mets History, inscribed with "You really need to get a life..." by the author, Dennis D'Agostino. Sadly, the book is in such sorry shape that the page with his inscription fell off and has since gone missing (I'm hopeful it still exists somewhere within my apartment. My baseball book collection currently numbers greater than 1,000, though I haven't counted the total within the last 10 years.

* My dad has another prized book, the 25th anniversary hardcover work by Donald Honig that we took to baseball-card shows and got signed by most of those still living who played on the 1962 and 1969 squads. I was usually the one assigned to stand in line and get the autographs while my dad maintained his memorabilia booth. One friend encouraged me to get pictures with the players as they signed and I did, since they were willing to oblige a kid of 11-12 years old who . Among the favorites that I still possess- Brooks Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Lefty Gomez and a shot of ex-Met second baseman Felix Millan, who took the time to ask me my name, then said goodbye later in the day when we both left the ballroom at the same.

* Having previously worked at a newspaper, I have an appreciation for such and made sure to save copies from a few moments this season. Maybe someday I'll frame them, as I have the back pages of two 1969 editions of the New York Daily News ("Mets are No. 1" from post-World Series celebration on October 17 AND "We're No. 1" from October 7, 1969, clinching the NLCS). I also collect stories related to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, though I don't have many original copies (computer databases have helped greatly). I do have copies of the two Boston newspapers the day after Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and must admit that those are a fun read.

* Not far from my videotape shelf it is a box of audio tapes, a collection that includes the broadcast of several memorable walk-off moments, including the New York (Bob Murphy), Boston (Ken Coleman), and national feed (Jack Buck) of the play-by-play from the last of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, as well as a reading of the Casey at the Bat parody Mookie at the Bat by Kostya Kennedy of Sports Illustrated. The one missing is near the top of my want list-I don't have a copy of the Spanish version of that broadcast. The other day I went about obtaining the audio of all the different versions of Endy Chavez's catch from Game 7 of the NLCS and made it a point to find the Spanish radio call as well. I don't have any idea what's being said, but I must admit that I get a good laugh in listening to it.

As you can see, I can go on and on about this stuff, as I did in the two hours in which it took me to write this much. People know that I have an expertise in collectibles from having observed the sports memorabilia business up close the last two decades. So I get a lot of people asking me "What's this worth?" and "What's that worth?"

My reply to them is this. "It's worth the amount of enjoyment you get from it" which usually disappoints them, but that's my honest opinion. I wouldn't sell any of the items I've listed for a million dollars. That's because I believe that real memorabilia, the kind that I like the most, is truly priceless.


Great stuff, Mark!

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